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Business trends

Japan's aging fitness clubs brace for tough workout

Elderly-oriented operators threatened by smaller upstarts

A Central Sports fitness center in Tokyo. Many full-service facilities in Japan are equipped with swimming pools. (Photo by Wataru Suzuki) 

TOKYO -- Things can seem pretty slow most mornings at a Central Sports fitness center in Tokyo's Adachi district. People can be seen walking in circles in the swimming pool, rubbing their legs in the studio or resting in a massage chair in the lounge. Instead of the adrenaline-pumping music common to many health clubs, just quiet chatter fills the air.

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